The USS Gabrielle Giffords in the South China Sea. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brenton Poyser

The Navy released a dramatic aerial photo of the San Diego-based littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords patrolling in the disputed South China Sea.

The ship, attached to Destroyer Squadron Seven, has been training with ships from the Japanese navy in the strategic area, which is dotted with small islands that China has been fortifying.

China claims the entire area to be its sovereign territory, while the United States considers it international waters and open to all countries.

Earlier this week the Navy announced that two aircraft carriers, the USS Ronald Reagan and USS Nimitz, are now operating in the area. The Nimitz deployed from North Island in June.

The Gabrielle Giffords is a fast, futuristic trimaran design armed with missiles, a main gun and helicopters. It’s one of ultimately over a dozen similar ships that will all be based in San Diego.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.